By Sushil Kutty
There is a growing realization and appreciation in large swathes of the country that Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have together been leading a resurgence in Congress fortunes in recent days and weeks; Priyanka Gandhi in particular, especially after MoS (Home) Ajay Kumar Mishra ‘Teni’ and his son Ashish Kumar Mishra dashed to the ground Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s hopes for a second term in office with their dangerous antics in Lakhimpur-Kheri.
That being said, there’s a problem – a person, actually, who does not seem to realize or appreciate that politics is always a pact with perception, and what people think and see and hear is of vast importance. We are talking of Rakesh Tikait! The farmer leader does not understand that it takes only one setback to derail several gainful steps in one fell swoop.
Rakesh Tikait’s problem is that he cannot hold his tongue. And he doesn’t realize how he’s talking, and of what he’s talking of. For example, Tikait’s comment “action ka reaction” trying to explain the “lynching” of three BJP workers at Lakhimpur-Kheri following the “mowing down of four farmers” gave the BJP and the ‘Godi Media’ the chance to rally and strike back.
Tikait while condemning the “mowing down of four innocent farmers” could have said in all earnestness that he considered the killings thereafter “most unfortunate” and eminently avoidable. Instead, he justified the “lynching” as a consequence of another act which in turn gave the BJP the perfect alibi to hit back, and cover-up.
You cannot have a seesaw of fortunes. The swing in favour of the BJP then is unpardonable. Actually, as far as the electorate is concerned, Rakesh Tikait speaks for the Opposition; and, amongst the opposition parties, for the Congress. Tikait’s utterances will have a direct impact on the Opposition’s and the Congress’s electoral fortunes.
After his “action ka reaction” in Lakhimpur-Kheri, Tikait compounded with his “suicide ho jata hai” comment vis a vis the gruesome “murder/lynching” of Lakhbir Singh at the Singhu Border. The killing took place at a stone’s throw-away distance of the “main stage” of the farmers’ protests at Singhu. For Tikait to dismiss it with “just like a suicide anywhere” was stupid and insensitive.
The problem is Tikait is not a charismatic leader. He looks and exudes bucolic. He cannot mount a charm offensive. His dialogue delivery is the rough and tumble sort. But he loves to talk, hold forth. Add to how he says what he says and there cannot be any gainsaying that Tikait is a disaster when he opens mouth!
Slowly, over time, a resume has been built about Rakesh Tikait. And not everything in the resume is worth gloating about; highlight in bold. The ‘January 26 Red Fort’ events was followed by the “gang-rape of a Bengal activist”. Then there were other “chutput incidents” which Tikait said did not have to do with the farmers’.
And now, Lakhbir Singh and his hurried cremation in the dead of the night. Tikait dismissed them as of no consequence. The morning of October 18, while heralding the daylong ‘Rail Roko’ agitation, Tikait spoiled it by saying that farmers cannot be held responsible for the troubles faced by the people/the daily commuters!
Tikait could have remained silent. But no! He had to open his mouth. The ‘Godi Media’ broadcast his “insensitive anti-people” comment throughout the day even as ‘Rail Roko’ caused disturbances everywhere the farmers blocked trains and crowded railway stations. The people were reminded only of what Tikait said and the people did not appreciate anything he said.
At the end of the day what’s important in an electoral democracy is to have the people on your side. Close to 11 months of farmers’ protests have left everybody exhausted. Crimes have been committed at protest sites and some of the protests have gone horribly wrong. There have been deaths and a few of them brutal killings in broad daylight.
Point is, the farmers cannot just walk away. Farmer leaders like Rakesh Tikait cannot get away with wrongs committed by farmers at protest sites. Tikait cannot just say “it’s no concern/not our fault” and shirk responsibility. This sort of behaviour has been taken note of and it’s not winning friends for the opposition or for Tikait. If anything, they are losing friends and supporters. Either Jayant Chaudhury or the Congress should please tell Rakesh Tikait to take Sonia Gandhi’s advice and talk less to the media. (IPA Service)